When it comes to our health care system and people's lives, we hope that those in charge of working in the medical field takes their jobs very seriously. Unfortunately, these disheartening tales showcase how that may not always be the case.
Source list available at the end.
I ended up in an emergency room due to a medication interaction. I couldnt walk, could barely speak, and was hallucinating. I dont remember it, but my husband had filled me in. The ambulance took me to a Catholic hospital. They asked him my religion, and he said atheist. It all went downhill from there.
He showed them my medic alert bracelet and brought all my meds. He told them that I have bipolar disorder (among other things). They insisted that I had purposely ODd. They left me in restraints for hours, and then a doctor said that I was fine and that I could go home. There were no tests or anything done. My husband pointed out that I couldn't even walk or complete a sentence, and they wanted to give me Haldol.
He said that maybe they should find out what was wrong with me first before adding something else. Ultimately, it turned out my lithium was almost at a fatal level, but they had waited for so long that the normal methods of removing it from my body were ineffective. As a result, I've had lasting effects.
I worked in a hospital up until last week. One of our employees would never wash his hands even after he took a dump. This was in a bone marrow transplant ward where people's immune systems are intentionally destroyed by radiation so their can bodies accept the transplant. I spoke with him and reported him several times, but nobody ever did anything.
I worked for a private ambulance service that would still run high priority calls out of hospitals. If the sending hospital couldn't provide a service due to either no personnel/equipment or nursing homes/care facilities that didn't want to overuse 911, dispatches would lie ALL THE TIME about our ETA's to facilities. Say one of our units was 40-minutes away, the hospital would call us and the dispatch would say 20 minutes. That way, the hospital wouldn't call another service that might be closer. By the time the sending hospital realized we weren't there in the time quoted, it would be too late/silly to call another service.
In other words, critical care was often delayed to make a set number of calls since calls equaled money.
I used to work in a manufacturing site for IV pharmaceuticals. One of the requirements was that you needed dedicated footwear to wear for inside of the building. Office employees had to change shoes when they entered the building so to not track any dirt/mud all over the facility that could be picked up by operators going into the Grade A clean rooms to make the products. One of the ladies that I knew thought that it was okay to wear her outside shoes, change them in the car once she got to work, and then change back into her outside shoes once she was inside.
I was working visitation at a nursing home where they didn't have a policy to count medication. If you know anything about nursing homes it's that you either have really trustful nurses, or nurses that just get rotated around a lot (mostly for stealing medication).
There was a big scandal at one of the highest-rated hospitals in the US a while back about "simultaneous surgeries." Let's say you needed a surgical procedure that required being under general anesthesia for an hour, the hospital might instead put you under for 2-3 hours while the surgeon operating on you rotated back and forth between you and several other patients also undergoing surgery.
General anesthesia always comes with a certain amount of inherent risk and that risk is amplified the longer the person is kept unconscious. Even worse, the hospital was not informing their patients that they would be "sharing" a surgeon, and therefore, staying under much longer than medically necessary.
The hospital claimed this was the best way to make use of their most highly-trained surgeons. There maybe some truth to that, but it still feels really sketchy to not tell patients about it. They could've easily given people an option like take a 4-hour surgery with our best surgeon, or a 2-hour surgery with a very competent but more junior surgeon (and then have informed them about all of the risks involved in taking the longer procedure).
Refusal to do things differently because of prior training or bad advice.
Tons of the doctors that I saw (I used to be a medical rep) were using super outdated methods/tech and were refusing to acknowledge the usefulness of newer techniques simply because they went to medical school and learned it "a certain way."
This isn't just me as a sales guy speaking. There were doctors who legitimately wouldn't do tests for things even if it was at no extra cost to them or the patient all because it came along after they already were set in their ways.
I had tubes growing up. Once they came out, one of the holes never healed, so I just had a hole in my eardrum. This meant having to wear ear plugs in the shower and stuff. My lifelong ear doctor was always saying, "Yes, we can do the surgery to fix it, but there's a 40% chance you might lose your hearing in that ear." As a result, I just left it for years and put up with it.
Finally, I thought to myself that my doctor is pretty old, and maybe I should get a younger doctor's opinion. So, I walked into this new doctor's office, and he took a look.
"Yes, it's an easy fix. We'll have you in and out in 45 minutes."
I thought very strongly about going down the hall and booting my old doctor in the head (as they were in the same office), but he was like 70-something. I don't think that would've ended well.
Doctor here. IF medical history teaches us anything, it's that we should be weary of new tests/meds/procedures as not only are they likely to be more expensive, but they haven't always been studied for as long as the older drugs/procedures yet.
Why do a test if it doesn't change our treatment choice or advice. Sometimes, we can easily fall victim to doing every test under the sun because we can.
On the flip side, there are some doctors who are outdated and haven't updated their practice. Hopefully, it's not all that common since we now have to rectify and provide evidence of our continued education.
I work in a hospital. I'm aware of a case where someone's medical information was accidentally copied and then pasted into the wrong patient's file. This resulted in the WRONG PATIENT getting their neck cut open for a surgery they didn't need. The correct patient actually had thyroid cancer and got their treatment delayed. A lawsuits followed.
A lot of ERs are really understaffed. Ive seen multiple instances where a single doctor is responsible for 20 plus patients all at once, or a single nurse is responsible for 5-10 patients with one or more of them being ICU admits waiting for a bed. The nurse to patient ratio in an ER should at least be 1:3 or 1:4.
I work in health care regulation, and there are many issues. One of the newer ones is pharmacies billing Medicare and TRICARE for diabetic supplies and compounded pain creams that weren't asked for by patients, but they were signed off on by unscrupulous or negligent doctors.
Also the amount of diversion of controlled substances from patients by nurses, EMTs, and doctors is higher than the general public may know about. One nurse, in particular, gave dozens of patients hepatitis C when he would inject himself with their pain medication and replaced the contents of the vial with saline before injecting the patient with the same needle.
Finally, some states have elderly group homes that exist as a cheaper alternative to nursing homes and ALFs, and they claim that the residents get more one-on-one attention due to the small size (think of it as 5-7 people living in a large house). However, some of the worst cases of patient neglect and abuse that I've ever seen were at these places, and it was usually because they'd only have 1-2 people on staff compared to the dozens at a nursing home. So, things were easy to keep under wraps.
I used to work as an EMT, and I responded to a call for a patient who was experiencing serious respiratory issues. We got on scene and found out that our patient was an elderly man who had recently been taken off of hospice care because his expectant mortality became less apparent, so he was placed back in nursing home care.
Because of his fragile state, one of his family members (I forget which one) signed a DNR/DNI form on his behalf (That's a "Do not resuscitate/ do not intubate"), which essentially means "Do not perform basic emergency medical interventions on this patient even if he goes south and is about to die." There are a lot of other things a person can check off on the form like "Do not transport to hospital" etc.
Anyway, when we found this out, we had to tell the nurse that legally we couldn't treat this man, nor could we transport him because his DNR had the "Do not transport" box filled in. She didn't like that one bit, so she asked for it back because she wanted to destroy it. HUGE NO, NO. We made a copy, took it with us, and told her that we're not taking this guy at all.
Half an hour later, we hear of another crew that transported the guy because there was "No documentation contraindicating the process." We ended up faxing a copy of the DNR to our shift command, and I'm pretty sure the nurse was fired after that.
Fraudulent insurance claims by EMS providers and PHI security breeches to name two.
They would force staff to continue working with serious contagious illnesses like TB. I worked in one hospital that was like this. We were short-staffed, and they really didn't seem to give a damn that there was a TB outbreak going on. They would make us come to work anyway while doing mass amounts of overtime. I ended up quitting because I actually felt like I was going to die. Meanwhile, every patient that would come through the ER was exposed to us and the active TB. We're supposed to be helping the ill and injured, not infecting them with TB. Needless to say, this hospital had been sued countless times for stuff like this.
Finding a doctor who is willing to testify against another doctor in a malpractice lawsuit is harder than finding someone riding a unicorn over a double rainbow (No matter how egregious the malpractice is).
First and foremost, the ridiculous price of just about everything that is available in the medical field. A lot of precise equipment is justifiable (i.e. artificial heart valves made by hand in sterile clean rooms, cardiac stents, etc.), but a screw for $10k is insane. Computer processors are manufactured from beginning to end in clean rooms as well and probably under more exacting specs. Medical equipment can be manufactured and then cleaned and sterilized with gas, UV, and/or radiation.
Mostly everything is manufactured for single use for infection prevention and fear of cross contamination. So, the volume of waste is just obscene. Plus, most of the garbage is classified as biological waste thus getting things recycled is difficult.
There are personnel shortages because hospital staff are sick of dealing with people. I was in critical care and almost quit nursing because most nights I was a glorified waiter that was poorly treated. We are held to customer satisfaction scores no matter what. Whether your complaint is valid, or if you are a heroin addict on your tenth admission for the month and we didn't push the Dilaudid fast enough for you to get that high feeling.
Finally, narcotics in general.
I work in a pharmacy, and a doctor was blacklisted from our pharmacy because he was prescribing his "attractive" female patients with high doses of opioids to get them addicted. He would then only refill their prescriptions if they had sex with him. Apparently, he had been doing this for years before someone finally said something. Since then, he has been arrested and charged with 13 felonies.
My county hospital, which is a teaching hospital, engages in a practice called overlapping surgery. A lot of hospitals do this, but patients don't know about it. They do two surgeries at the same time because the attending's part of the surgery is very short. So, the surgery residents/fellows do all the other stuff under his direction, but he won't necessarily be supervising or even in the room. That way, the senior surgeon can bill for four procedures while only really doing one or two.
It happens at a lot of hospitals, but you're never told about it and that's my issue with it. The patient's aren't told about it, at least at my hospital, they aren't. If you were told that your surgeon would be performing another (or two other) surgeries at the same time as yours, would you still sign off on it? I probably wouldn't.
They're BS in most cases. "Failure to progress" is generally failure to allow labor to start on its own (and inducing before it's actually time to do so) and/or augmenting with the expectation that a woman will deliver within x-hours. Cesareans are highly over utilized.
I also encourage anyone interested to research nuchal cords. They are often used as a scapegoat for decelerations in infant heart rate, failure to progress, still birth, etc. Yet, modern research shows that this is not the case.
I was a volunteer at a hospital that accidentally cremated an organ donor and covered it up by claiming it was the families fault for not doing the correct papers. In reality, two stiffs had the same name.
I'm a last year anesthesia resident here. I've seen a lot of shady stuff, but this one was the worst. During my first year of residency, I was on call during the night with my boss, who was an anesthetist and had a really bad reputation, and I didn't know why/the details of it.
After starting a surgery at 2 AM, he just left. I didn't hear from him for the rest of the case and had to wake up the patient. After that I had to count the Sufentanil that we used (Narcotics 1000x as potent as Morphine). We were missing a lot and were way off balance. I searched for my boss everywhere so that I could inform him, only to find him intoxicated on a chair near the on call bedrooms. I now understood how he'd earned his bad reputation, and he went into rehab a few months later.
It's pretty scary because we represent less than 1% of the doctors, but represent 15% of doctors with addictions/abuse (in Canada only at least). The incredibly easy access to narcotics, ketamine, etc. is probably the number one factor.
The promotion and sale of supplements, alternative medicine, and other herbal remedies almost never do anything useful, but they can interact with other things to actually do you more harm than good and take the place of useful treatments.
Advanced EMTs and paramedics with the rainbow game. There are different sizes of IV catheters, and they're all different colors. When they pick up a drunk person, they asks them what their favorite color is and that's the color needle they stick them with which is very unprofessional.
Posts are edited for clarity.